Welcome, cats and kittens, to yet another installment of the blog that puts the "hell" in Helvetica, Cewsh Reviews! We have a special treat for you tonight, as the skies grow dark, the world grows cold and the demonic realm rises to the surface for one night to give you WWE Hell in a Cell 2012. So what does hell have on the docket for us tonight? Well we'll see a giant fight an Irishman, we'll see three women fight because one of them was pretending to like the others, we'll see a Punk get mauled by a monster and we might even see the Miz. I don't know what version of hell this is, but it sounds about right. But the real story here is, of course, Ryback. The big man is on a rocketship to his first ever main event here, and he has been tearing people limb from limb all the way. Will Punk be able to escape the biggest threat to his title yet? Or will Ryback steamroll Punk, win the title and promptly eat it? There's only one way to find out.
So without any further ado, let's do a motherfucking review!
Cewsh: I'm not going to talk about the ACTUAL opening video here, because it was pretty by the numbers stuff, and that isn't interesting for anyone but Kevin Dunn. No, I'm going to talk about the video package that aired immediately before the main event, because that's the treasure here. See, the biggest potential problem with Ryback at this point is simply a matter of momentum and credibility. You can't simply take a guy, however threatening, and tell people that he's a big deal and a main eventer overnight. You just can't. It takes the mainstream wrestling audience a few months to really latch onto the idea that something is a big deal and then get behind it, and during that time, any number of things can derail the progress you've been building to. That's why building new stars is such hard work that many promoters hardly bother to do it at all.
Therefore it's an ENORMOUS boon to a promotion when they have a production team who can accomplish with a 3 minute video, what may have taken weeks of dangerously uncertain booking to do. In this case, what these men and women accomplished was making Ryback not only look like he may very well be on Punk's level, but made it look like a virtual certainty that Ryback would win this match. What that does is reinforce to the kids watching with their parents that this dude is a big deal and awesome, and reinforces to internet smarks that they should definitely be hating Ryback by now, because wrestling is an eternal war between these two sides that are both eating Cheetoes right now.
So kudos on the excellent video here, which totally makes up for the lackluster one to start the show. Now let's see if everyone who doesn't use Photoshop filters for a living held up their end.
Cewsh: Okay now, tonight we're opening things up with the mother of all, "throw these guys together until we find something else for them to do," feuds. Randy is still slowly making his way back towards worthwhile storylines following his suspension earlier this year, and Del Rio is back down in the upper midcard doldrums like he always is after his once a year push. It was a match made it filler, and those are always the sweetest.
For a match that actually means less than the lyrics of "Louie Louie" though, there was some really great stuff here. You won't ever hear me say a word against Randy Orton's abilities in the ring, but there are times in low key matches like this where he'll mail it in a bit and just hit his regular spots and go home. But tonight he and Del Rio really go for it, and wind up having the second most surprisingly great match of the night, (more on that later.) Del Rio's offense looks great for once, Orton does some great selling of the arm, and the crowd actually gets into the match big time as it heads towards the climax. Unfortunately, they pretty much kill the crowd when they fall prey to one of the most awkward botches in recent memory.
See, Del Rio staggers Orton and goes to the top rope ready to crush that snaky bastard with the great abs. He wins up big time, leaps off of the top turnbuckle and into the air majestically...only to land on his feet and look at Randy in confusion before donning a gigantic, "Oh shit" face. Randy, who I can only assume was meant to dropkick Del Rio out of the air, (which would have been hard since Del Rio jumped when Randy was so far out of position that he may as well have been at home playing Duck Hunt,) tries to dropkick Del Rio, but in Alberto's panic he's already running vaguely in the direction of Mexico. When Alberto sees that Randy is trying to do a move, he snaps out of it and stops, waiting for it, and Randy goes to dropkick him again, but by then Alberto is already running again, and a visibly furious Orton tells him to come on already before dropping him with the dropkick on the FOURTH TRY and moving on with the match. DROPKICK.
Understandably, this Vaudevillian act of suckitude kind of sucks the momentum out of the rest of the match, though they do a capable job of bringing the crowd back to life, and wind up ending things with one of the coolest RKOs I've ever seen.
All in all, a good match with a great finish that was only somewhat hampered by the fact that Alberto Del Rio will attempt to attack you while you're in the middle of a heated duck shooting session. The bastard.
77 out of 100
Fae: The match was okay, but honestly, I can’t really think of anything except that botch, and the rather sordid recovery from it. OMG did Orton look pissed at Del Rio during all of that. I think at this point, we can all say this together: Del Rio is not a very good wrestler. He’s not horrible, but he’s no main card superstar. Although, some people may argue that I’m biased, and they are completely correct. My biases aside, Del Rio just doesn’t really stand out in any match he’s in and, unfortunately, both he and whoever he’s against both suffer for it.
Cewsh: Backstage, Paul Heyman intrudes on the lovely Vickie Guerrero and attempts to butter her up like a Paula Dean burrito. He tries to convince Vickie to cancel the Hell in a Cell match between Punk and Ryback tonight, and seems sure that she will, but in an act that proves that even the most evil of heels will do the right thing if their job depends on it, Vickie refuses to change the match.
She walks off, leaving Heyman trying desperately to think of a way out of the nasty situation ahead of him. And then he comes up with an idea. Try to guess what it is. I dare you.
Cewsh: I can't even believe that I'm about to type the following words, but this match came about as a result of a tag team tournament that Rhodes Scholars won, granting them this title shot. If I went back and time and told 2009 Cewsh about this, he'd would assume I was a robot sent to kill him because my story wouldn't sound plausible.
Now it has to be said that Team Hell No have been an interesting case as a tag team. We're talking about a pair that have stolen every show they've been on with their out of the ring antics, while at the same time failing to put on any particularly good matches inside of it. So we have this weird situation where the actual matches they appear in on pay per view are almost anticlimactic after how enjoyable their backstage segments are. I'm at a loss to think of another high profile act that has ever really worked this way, and the fact that Daniel Bryan is one of these two makes it all the more puzzling. 5 years ago, the man couldn't say four sentences without putting you to sleep, and he's killing it in promos and having dreary matches? WHAT IS GOING ON?!
This was another match along those lines. Sandow and Rhodes are terrific together, and Rhodes especially damn near kills himself on every move Kane does to him, but ultimately the match is just a set up for another squabble between Bryan and Kane, and Team Rhodes Scholars get swept under the rug by the end as if they had never been there at all. WWE really seems to be running with the tag division lately, and Kane and Daniel Bryan have made for some fantastic television lately, but this didn't help anyone at all, and the day when Team Hell No's gimmick grows stale is not far off now. I'm just hoping they realize that.
69 out of 100
Fae: I love Team Hell No. They may not be the best wrestlers in the show (though each certainly is very good on his own. Bryan is arguably one of the best on the show right now), but they always deliver in entertainment. And they actually worked alright together at first. Uuuntil Daniel Bryan tried to take the glory and tagged himself in to make the pin. Silly Bryan. Needless to say, Kane was a little angry about that, and the ensuing, ahem, discussion saw the champions disqualified. Which means they technically lost, but got to keep screaming “I’m the tag team champions” at each other. Good for them. :D
Cewsh: Here are two guys who, 6 months ago, had all but fallen off of the face of the wrestling world. Kofi had been relegated to being the write in tag team champion, presiding over a division with only him in it, and the Miz was in danger of becoming a write off embarrassment of a former champion along the lines of Jack Swagger. But fast forward to now, and my how things have changed. See, following his return after hiatus at Money in the Bank, the Miz has been the best that we've ever seen him by far. His matches have the storytelling and excitement they lacked before, and WWE has responded by putting him on virtually every show they run, and deservedly so. Meanwhile, Kofi Kingston completed his slow transition from spot monkey into tremendous performer that took me so by surprise that I still have no idea when the shift happened. And all of a sudden WWE had these two guys in the midcard who had rekindled their careers at the same time, so they stuck them together on an episode of WWE Main Event for the Intercontinental title, and the two responded with a match so fucking good it made me want to slap my mama, (but I didn't, because that would be cruel.) Kofi won the title that night, making the IC title seem like something of actual significance for the first time since the Clinton Administration, and now it's Miz's chance to get the title back.
Now, there are times when you watch matches between people and just realize that they have chemistry. Everything they do looks smooth, they hardly seem to need to communicate at all, and their matches are uniformly terrific. Prior to this feud, I had never thought of Kofi and Miz like that, but I'm damn sure thinking it now. These two go out here and have a really good solid match that, while not as good as their triumphant Main Event match, (which you should track down and see immediately,) is still a great midcard title match with both guys going full out for a title that they actually want. Kofi was a great babyface who the fans genuinely seemed to like, and I can't say enough about how far the Miz has come in a short time in every facet of his game. What results is pretty damn good, and if you think this is the last chance we'll get to enjoy it, then you're out of your fucking mind. This has the potential to be a money feud for another decade. And let's not lose sight that I'm saying that about KOFI FUCKING KINGSTON AND THE MIZ.
79 out of 100
Fae: Y’know, I wasn’t sure about him at first, but I really like Kofi. And I sorta like the Miz. They’re both really coming into their own as wrestlers. Now, I don’t think either are ready to be main eventers, but they’re both solid mid card talent and that’s also an important place. (I’m also really happy that they’re owning up to Kofi being from Ghana, instead of trying to make him Carribean).
Cewsh: This month's winner of the "oh shit we need a challenger for Cesaro" contest is Justin Gabriel, who got this shot by beating Cesaro in a random Raw match. As backstories go, it's not exactly the Mega Powers exploding, but at least it is A reason for them to fight.
Now let's get down to the important thing here. Antonio Cesaro is a goddamn cyborg. There's no other possible explanation for it. In my life as a wrestling watcher, I've seen a ton of guys who were ridiculously strong, and many of them weren't mega muscle men. But Cesaro is deadlifting people like they're cardboard cutouts, and doing it without so much as a grimace to be seen. I think we need to get the federal authorities involved here, because a rogue Sweedish cyborg roaming the countryside gutwrenching people sound like the plot of a Syfy channel movie.
Especially now that's he's moved on to decapitation.
This match is just another example. Gabriel tries his level best to take down the robot, but he's no John Henry, so he fall prey to a dead lift, (WHILE SQUATTING,) Neutralizer to virtual silence from the crowd who clearly knows that they're seeing the future fall of man right before their eyes, (and also because they were an awful crowd who sat on their hands all night. Unless they were somehow programmed not to feel human emotionsOH MY GOD THE CROWD ARE CYBORGS OH GOD RUN.)
72 out of 100
Fae: Admittedly, I’m not super invested in this match. Sure, Cesaro is built like some bronze statues I’ve seen at museums, and sure Gabriel is fun to watch but these guys don’t come onto the shows enough to feel emotionally driven for either of them. They’re fun to watch, but they’re also kind of a filler match.
Cewsh: Okay, now earlier I asked you guys to guess what idea it was that Paul Heyman came up with the convince Vickie Guerrero to cancel the WWE Championship match tonight. Ballots in, what did you guys come up with? Let's see. Plant a tree in Israel in her honor? No. Hunting lessons with Brock Lesnar? No. Convincing her that Ryback is a space alien and therefore ineligible for title contention? Getting warmer. Let's go to the tape and see what he actually does.
HE JUST TELLS HER SHE MADE THE OPPOSITE DECISION AND EXPECTS HER TO GO ALONG WITH IT.
Honestly, of all of the conniving and manipulative tricks you would imagine that Paul Heyman has developed over the years, the best he could do was to just tell Vickie she made a massive, insane decision and hope that she forgot all about it. She dismisses him in a huff, but honestly I might have gone along with it, just out of pity for the man.
Cewsh: It really must be said that this team of Sin Cara and Rey Mysterio has done absolute wonders for both of their careers at this stage.
When Sin Cara has Mysterio there with him, he is visibly and obviously smoother and less mistake prone in the ring, and with Sin Cara there to do the heavy lifting, Mysterio is quicker, and more exciting than he's been in years. The result is a team that not only feels like a real team, but which is also doing a tremendous job of protecting a treasured performer on his way down and elevating his protege. I can't say enough for it. These guys are great together. Of course, not to be outdone are the Primetime Players, who have matured in the ring at lightning speed over the past few months. It's gotten to the point where they seem so comfortable as a team, and with their role that I would be confident in putting them in matches with rookie teams to help them get better. Considering the fact that 6 months ago this whole tag division concept was just a ridiculous pipe dream and rumor, these two teams, (plus the two in the title match,) are clearly showing that tag wrestling is something that can have real value in WWE right now.
This match is no exception to that. There's no real backstory behind it, and these four are just tasked with being entertaining for 10 minutes, which they do effortlessly. I don't know where this division, or these teams, are headed from this point on, but for the first time since I wore braces, I'm excited about a tag division. Kudos to all involved.
75 out of 100
Fae: Now, anyone who’s even read a line of my reviews probably knows that I love me some Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara. Like, it may or may not be possible that I would leave my boyfriend just for a chance to touch Sin Cara (and/or Sheamus, but that’s a different story and a different match). So, I was pretty excited when I found out they would have a match despite losing the number 1 tag team contenders’ spot.
Cewsh: I FUCKING LOVED THIS MATCH.
See, while Sheamus has been very hit or miss with most people in terms of his character and promos since becoming champion this year, you would be hard pressed to find a rational person who didn't think that he is becoming an absolute beast in the ring. But the examples of this that you could show to his nay sayers were always matches with guys like Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler and CM Punk. Not exactly hard people to have good matches with. But here we have a match against the Big Show, who is notorious for killing the momentum of anyone who doesn't have the ability to put on a special performance and Sheamus not only knocks it out of the park, but brings a great performance out of Show as well.
The match focuses primarily around the fact that Sheamus had no idea what he was getting himself into when he agreed to fight Show. The announcers repeat often that there's no way to gameplan wrestling someone like the Big Show for the first time, and Sheamus tries repeatedly to do things to Show that have always worked on everyone else, only to be pounded into mush by the giant in front of him. This works great because, a) Show puts in a tremendous beating on the Irishman and b) Sheamus is one of those special wrestlers who knows what fighting spirit is and how it's meant to be used. When Sheamus get's beaten down he LOOKS beaten down, but he doesn't stop fighting, even when it makes the situation worse. And then, in the best traditions of Kobashi, he gets an adrenaline rush and does incredible things. The reason this is a tried and true wrestling story is because, when a wrestler can do it well, the fans go fucking bananas for it. Which you can clearly see them doing in any Sheamus match this year that goes longer than 12 minutes. He sucks people into his performance, and here he does that exact thing.
But even besides all of that stuff, the brilliant thing about this match is that Sheamus never really has a chance. After years of wavering on whether Big Show was an unstoppable menace or just a tall, fat punching bag, this match made it utterly clear that Show wasn't just dangerous, he was nigh unbeatable. So when Sheamus kicked out of the WMD punch, it was a shock that brought the crowd to their feet, and when Sheamus hit the Brogue Kick, people went nuts, thinking that maaaaaaaaybe he had a chance. But in the end Show outsmarts Sheamus and swats him out of the air. And the inevitability of the whole match when viewed as the finish makes Show look like such a badass that it actually makes SHEAMUS look better just for putting up such a fight.
I could seriously sit here and talk about what a shocking great match this was all night, but that would be a waste of your time that you could be spending watching this instead. What are you waiting for?
89 out of 100
Cewsh's Seal of Approval
Fae: I have been so pumped for this match. Sheamus is one of my favorites, and I have to admit, I spent the majority of this match saying “My poor Sheamus” over and over again. In fact, as of 11/5, over a week after the match, he still has welts on his chest from Big Show. My poor Sheamus.
But, if you know me, you’ll also know that I like Show. He’s awesome and, in his own words, he’s a giant! What’s not to like about that? And seeing him lurking around in a hoodie is one of the most intimidating things ever.
Cewsh: If you get to this point in a WWE pay per view without anyone being chased by a leprechaun, or hit in the nuts with a pie, you can probably go ahead and assume that the reason that WWE comedy hour hasn't happened is only because it's still yet to come. And so we get this segment, where Eve is subjected to Zack Ryder dressing up as the worst looking witch since Bette Midler in the Witches of Eastwick in her honor. And then, naturally, we get Santino Marrella singing an off key rendition of Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" while wrapped in barbed wire for just long enough to make my eyes sad. Then, as if summonded by the immortal gods on high to rescue this segment from the tyranny of "jokes", Ron Simmons wanders up and delivers his first "DAMN" in far too long.
On the downside, this was an absurd waste of human existence in the beautiful multispheric timescape we call life. On the upside, watching it killed enough of my brain cells that now I think I'm a fire truck. VROOM VROOM WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE
Cewsh: This match is not good. Eve vs. Layla was good. Eve vs. Kaitlyn has been good. I imagine even Layla vs. Kaitlyn might have a slight chance of being good. But the combination of the three was an exercised in confused dreariness, that not only sucked momentum out of this show, but squandered the solid progress their feud had been making for each of them.
It's never a happy thing when your worst expectations are proven true.
59 out of 100
Fae: I’ll admit it, I didn’t watch this match. I was raiding in WoW. Sorry.
Cewsh: We go again to the backstage area, where we now see CM Punk asking Vince very nicely if he wouldn't mind canceling the match. Vince, being Vince, asks Punk in about 30 different ways whether or not he's scared of Ryback. With each answer, Punk gets more and more pouty, and since Mr. McMahon feeds on the pain and sadness of his employees, he refuses to change anything and sends Punk out to be mauled.
Actually, by this point in the show, I'm actually starting to feel bad for Punk. Maybe Ryback could take it easy on him since he's having such a bad night. Ryback seems like a nice, understanding kind of guy, right?
Cewsh: Here we go. The event we've been waiting for, and the culmination to the whirlwind push of the past month for Ryback. The undefeated monster taking on the 10th longest reigning WWE champion in history. Ryback has never wrestled on anything remotely close to a stage this big, and Punk has never faced anyone like Ryback, so when the dust settles, what will carry the day? Brains or brawn?
Punk comes down to the ring first, (which I'm sure is giving Vice an ulcer somewhere right now,) and the look on his face as he examines his surroundings is absolutely masterful, conveying his genuine terror and stubborn bravado in the face of destruction all at once. Then Ryback arrives, and the previously dead crowd wakes up and starts buzzing. Ryback climbs into the ring and has to wait, as Punk tests the Cell door to see if there's any way of getting out of this at the last minute. There isn't. As it slowly dawns on Punk that he is well and truly trapped in the Cell with Ryback, the bravado takes over, and Punk hops into the ring to try to beat Ryback fair and square. You can probably guess how that goes. Let's ask Paul Heyman.
From the start, Ryback is all over Punk; slamming him into the ground and tossing him around like a rag doll at will. Punk does his best to sneak some shots in wherever he can, but every move Ryback does just rocks Punk, and you can see the disbelief grow and grow in the champion as his bag of tricks drains out. Running out of options, Punk decides to get weapons involved, and starts whaling away on Ryback with a Kendo stick as hard as he can, evoking the memory of Punk damn near caving in Vince McMahon's ribs with the thing just weeks earlier. But Ryback aint Vinny Mac, and with each new shot he climbs to his feet, growing redder and redder, until finally he explodes and just demolishes Punk in a stunningly violent fashion.
Finally, with Punk seemingly completely out of it, Ryback hoists the champion up to end it and march his way in the record books. But before he can, the referee stands in his way and tells him to stop. A confused Ryback tells the referee to fuck off, and is even more confused when the ref drops down and uppercuts his ballsack into the Western Hemisphere.
Completely stunned by this turn of events, Ryback is easy prey for a quick thinking Punk, who rolls him up and, thanks to a fast count from our ref, wins the match and retains the title.
The crowd looks on in total disbelief as Punk and the ref scurry over to the door and try to get it unlocked before Ryback comes to. They beg and plead with the officials struggling with the door to hurry, but their prayers are in vain.
Ryback wakes up with doom in his eyes, and focuses his attention on this little shithead ref who has stolen the gold from him. To say that the ref gets what is coming to him is a ridiculous understatement, as Ryback hurtles him into the cage numerous times, before burying him with a Meat Hook Lariat and then hurtling him bodily from inside the ring into the cage surrounding it. Then Ryback sees a horrified Punk trying to scamper away through the now open door, and gives chase, only for Punk to climb the cage to get the hell away.
But as with other people who have climbed that cage, Punk finds nothing but pain up there. Ryback hoists him into the sky for a nasty Shell Shock onto the Cell, and then stands over him like the bad, bad man he is.
Now, I'm sure people will look at the score I give this match and take it as justification that Ryback's first main event match was a failure. After all, most WWE main events of any success whatsoever score into the high 80s range, just due to the effort put into making it the one great match on the whole show. But thinking about it, I don't see this match as a failure at all. They spent the past month building Ryback into this incredible wrecking machine, and when the time came for him to prove it, he absolutely did so. He was dominant here in a way that I've really only seen Goldberg and Lesnar be before, and he did his job remarkably well, without looking blown up or over his head, or even out of place in a match of such significance. Even if everything else had blown donkey nuts, that still would have made this match a resounding success for WWE. Because, whether Ryback won or lost, he became a main eventer here. And the score this match got was simply because the best part of the match wasn't the match at all, but rather all that followed it, which was terrific and one of the most enjoyable sequences of wrestling in months.
So now that all the smoke has cleared, and the Ryback experiment has its first real test results, what can we draw from the data? Well, in the opinion of this scientist, I think we can consider my hypothesis confirmed. Ryback is every bit a viable main eventer. A new star has finally been born.
82 out of 100
Cewsh's Seal of Approval
Fae: La-la-la, Ryback is thrashing punk pretty good. Punk got about, oh, ten actual shots in. (Or something like that) I think Ryback’s going to win this –
Cewsh: You know, for a show built around the idea of hell, it must be said that this show was surprisingly pleasant. We had a star making main event that felt fresh and interesting all the way through, a World title match that blew away anyone's expectations for it, and an undercard that was largely compelling. It is generally the case that the efforts they make to push people throughout the dreary summer tend to start bearing fruit around this time of year, and this is all the example you need to prove that theory right. The idea of a WWE October PPV being a great show might be new and frightening to many of you, but god damn is it ever refreshing.
Fae: Overall, aside from two matches (the diva’s match which I admittedly didn't watch and the Del Rio Orton match which was alright despite the awful, awful botch) this was one of my more favorite ppvs. Everyone looked pretty strong and they made some exciting choices. I look forward to seeing Sheamus chase down the Big Show, and seeing Ryback get his retribution against Punk. And, as always, Team Hell No (I originally typed “Team Hello”, lawl) was entertaining. There were thrills (Kofi dominating the Miz) and there were chills (Sin Cara almost giving himself a concussion.) And…there were things I couldn't care less about (did anyone actually watch the pre-show?) And apparently, I’m a huge fan of parenthesis this month. (Woot. Parenthesis unite!)
Alright, that'll do it for us this time, boys and girls. We hope you enjoyed our expansive coverage of WWE Hell in a Cell, and appreciate the kind of travel stipend we need to cover shows for you that are held in other dimensions. YOU'RE WELCOME. Next up is our review of TNA's Bound for Glory 2012. And until then, remember to keep reading and always be good to one another.